Breaking new ground
Anew project in Barisal provides young girls with a sustainable livelihood by educating them as prawn hatching technicians. For the first time ever in Bangladesh girls will be trained in the field of prawn hatching and farming as well as horticulture. In the project, named the Bangladesh Youth Employment Pilot (BYEP), 73 girls participated initially and the 60 who graduated have been inducted into the male dominated world of prawn hatching. The ultimate goal of the project is to achieve 50% female participation.
The girls in the program are between 18-30 years old. They all come from backgrounds with acute poverty and family crises. The project will, in total, educate 360 youths in two sessions, the first of 45 days and the second of 25 days. The BYEP hopes that the project will provide the girls with skills and confidence to secure their economical situation and thereby give them a sustainable livelihood.
A man's world
Even though the field of prawn hatching is male dominated and requires hard physical work the girls enter the project with the ambition of learning the trade and working on equal terms with the men. The girls hope to be able to get jobs once they finish the project, some hope to find a job near their home and others are willing to move. However, in common for all the girls is that they wish to become self-reliant and thereby independent of others' mercy and will.
The project pushes social boundaries by educating women to work within the field of prawn hatching. BYEP realises that Bangladesh has an unsafe environment for the women in terms of working outside the home, especially since many of the girls may get jobs located far from their homes. Because of this, BYEP has initiated a series of sessions where the girls are made aware of factors that arise when working outside of the home and about being manipulated, cheated or trapped by unknown men.
Working towards independence
The project focuses on youths that have discontinued school and may, therefore, have literacy and numeracy problems, but the project has shown positive results. "The female participants are not only enthusiastic but have proven that they are also fully capable of learning and taking part in the physical labour of the hatchery and farm work that is part of the training," says the local BYEP coordinator.
The results of the semi-final exams support the success as girls achieved 3 of the 5 best results. The project coordinators have been encouraged by these results and believe that the girls will be capable of doing well within their new field. The coordinators feel that the way to promote equality and help those less fortunate is through long term sustainable livelihood, and by educating the girls within a field that will most likely grow in the future the girls are given tools to serve themselves and those around them.